Thank you, Mrs. Doubtfire

by Larry Dawalt, HPCCR Senior Director of Spiritual & Grief Care Services 

robin williamsMy favorite barista at Starbucks was subdued and solemn this morning as she quietly asked if I had heard about the death of Robin Williams.

Her grief was sincere and genuine as was the grief of dozens of my Facebook friends who had taken to social media Monday night to express their feelings of shock, disbelief, numbness, and loss.  I share those feelings and am experiencing a dark wave of loss today, not unlike what overcame me at the loss of Whitney Houston, Heath Ledger, Corey Monteith, Phillips Seymour Hoffman, Maya Angelou and other celebrities that I knew, but did not know.

Why do we grieve celebrities?  I think John James and Russell Friedman of The Grief Recovery Institute said it well when they wrote that, “Unresolved grief is about undelivered communications of an emotional nature.”

What that means to me is that I didn’t get to say “thank you” for the smiles, laughter, thoughts, and even tears that Robin Williams brought me through his roles; and I didn’t get to provide any words of comfort for his real-life sorrow and pain.

One day after the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt in 2001, I remember a television reporter asking me how we get over this and move on.  My answer then is my answer this morning — we don’t get over it today or tomorrow or the next day.  But our sense of loss can eventually become mixed with gratitude as we think about the happiness and joy we experienced from that person.

So today, with a genuine Dr. Sean Maguire (Good Will Hunting) hug, I say thank you to Mork from Ork (Mork and Mindy), T.S. Garp (The World According to Garp), Vladimir Ivanov (Moscow on the Hudson), Adrian Cronauer (Good Morning, Vietnam), John Keating (Dead Poets Society), Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Awakenings), Parry (The Fisher King), Peter Pan (Hook, Back to Neverland), Dr. Kosevich (Nine Months), Alan Parrish (Jumanji), Armand Goldman (The Birdcage), Professor Philip Brainard (Flubber), Hunter Adams (Patch Adams), Tom Dobbs (Man of the Year), Wizard Wallace (August Rush), Reverend Frank (License to Wed), and all the others characters that made Robin Williams a household name.

And closing my eyes, I hear the precious words of Mrs. Doubtfire to Katie McCormick at the end of the movie: “If there’s love, dear… those are the ties that bind, and you’ll have a family in your heart, forever.  All my love to you, poppet… you’re going to be all right… bye-bye.”

Thank you, Robin Williams… bye-bye.

Explore posts in the same categories: awareness, end of life, grief, hospice

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4 Comments on “Thank you, Mrs. Doubtfire”

  1. Nancy Cole Says:

    Thank you for this message, Larry. I too, have been mourning the loss of Robin Williams, a great man, father,husband, and actor. He was truly an all-around terrific comedian. I laughed until I cried during many of his movies, but only cried this past Monday when I heard the sad news of his passing. He will be in my heart forever, bye bye.

  2. Laura Says:

    Very well said – thank you.

  3. PJ Brunson Says:

    Thank you, Larry. I think you said it all.

  4. Micheala Says:


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